We have worked with global organizations for 25 years.
Leading a culturally diverse team has now become table-stakes for most executives. To drive success in the 21st century, we need to lead in ways that builds capacity in the teams we have. Just as companies are continuously evaluating the core competencies of the company, the same holds true for looking at their C-level team. Every executive needs to take stock and align with the prevailing conditions and requirements for the future to drive a global strategy. In today’s business climate, executives with a greater capacity for inquisitiveness, tolerance for ambiguity, interest flexibility, self-awareness, and emotional sensitivity – to name just a few – are the one’s who are rising to the top.
What does it take to be successful globally?
Initially, it’s important to understand the differences among people from a purely human standpoint. In this we mean personality differences, communication styles, and an appreciation of what makes people unique. However, the ways we express ourselves to people within a country culture differs greatly across the world. For example, a leader who peppers his language with frequent baseball or football metaphors may leave his team from another country wondering what he’s talking about. And that’s just the simple part. Communication is job #1 as a leader, and if you are unable to engage your team because they do not understand you, it does not take a rocket scientist to determine that your strategy is going to be dead in the water. So what should you do?
Understanding Cultural Differences
Let’s start with true global differences in culture. We use a very simple tool as a starting point. It’s called Globesmart and you can access it free with this link (GlobeSmart), or you can purchase a single user license through our relationship with Aperion Global. This tool allows you to take a quick assessment of the differences in your value system, communication skills, and basic perspective or worldview compared to others you work with on a daily basis. We heartily recommend you start with some awareness of the cultural differences around you every day and gain an appreciation for how you appear to others. Building positive relationships with others who share different perspectives is key to great work relationships. This tool offers many more features and benefits, including news feeds, help learning a language, and other valuable lessons for global leaders and team members.
Understanding How You Are Perceived By Others
If you are a senior executive and you want to start by gaining a deeper appreciation of how you come across to others, we recommend the Global Competency Inventory. This assessment instrument provides you with insight into your own preferences and abilities (limitations) as it relates to working globally. To be smart about it, you should at least have a perspective on how you are viewed by others outside your culture. The assessment provides keen insights to executives, and with proper guidance from an experienced executive coach, you can improve your global leadership capability in a few months. We are certified in the GCI and would be happy to administer the assessment to you or members of your leadership team.
Global Mobility & Assignments
Longer-term, the very best way to develop your global leadership skill is to be mobile. You may have an opportunity lead a Joint Venture between your company and another company from another country. Those are tricky relationships when you are all from the same culture, but highly complex when you are dealing with cross-border communication and cultural differences in building relationships, negotiating, and doing business day-to-day. Traveling is very helpful to your development, but if an opportunity to work in a strategic project comes along (like a JV), step up and stay “yes!” If a global assignment comes along, by all means, consider the value to you and your family of living abroad for several years. The value to you, personally, will be immense. Not only will you develop your leadership capital (being able to lead across boundaries, languages, time zones, and cultures) but it will also develop your humility, sense of humor, your ability to manage stress, and overall, deepen your appreciation for the world around you (especially your home country!). It’s hard to be stuck in your own ways when you are faced with so many cultural differences every day.
Global Executive Development Partners works with global companies, top executives, and leaders at all levels to develop their global leadership skills. Contact us today to learn more, and to get started on your global development journey!